If you’re already planning a sunny, beachy, getaway for this summer, you’re not alone and there’s no shortage to the amazing trips you can take all around the world! But in addition to lazing about in the sand, why not combine your summer vacation with a volunteer project that will let you explore a new place, do some real good for a community in need, and take in a totally different—yet exciting—culture?
2020 Summer Volunteer Work Abroad Programs & Opportunities
There are a large number of international volunteer organizations operating all around the world – like International Volunteer HQ, which was named one of our 2019 Best Volunteer Abroad programs. IVHQ offers 200+ projects in over 40 destinations that can benefit from a few weeks to a few months of your time this summer.
Or if you’re looking for an organization that specializes in one region of the world, check out programs like those in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa with Agape Volunteers, which offers some of the most affordable volunteer trips to Africa that you can find. And though summer may still seem a ways off, it’s never too early to start planning for your volunteer abroad adventure. Keep in mind that summer is the most popular time to volunteer abroad (especially for high school students and teens), so it may be worthwhile to book your trip early to ensure you are able to reserve a spot with the organization of your choice in your desired location.
Here are just a few of the many volunteer abroad projects you may want to jump into this summer. If you’re looking for more ideas, click “Volunteer Abroad” or “Intern Abroad” in the menu at the top of this page to explore many more opportunities! And in case you’re wondering, the beautiful picture above is from the Global Vision International Seychelles volunteer project!
Founded in 2007, International Volunteer HQ emphasizes community involvement and affordable volunteer travel. IVHQ partners with local organizations to develop volunteer projects for travelers worldwide, allowing for a positive community dynamic. By working directly with local organizations, IVHQ can remain affordable for volunteers on a budget—and as one of the highest-rated volunteer abroad organizations worldwide, IVHQ sends thousands of volunteers around the world each year. Since the organization’s founding, IVHQ has placed more than 80,000 volunteers on more than 200 projects.
If you’re interested in traveling to Asia this summer, IVHQ has a sea turtle conservation project based in Nusa Penida, Bali. As with most of IVHQ’s volunteer programs, you can choose to travel for one to 12 weeks with flexible start dates. Through this placement, you’ll work with a team onsite to help save the endangered sea turtles of Indonesia by volunteering directly with the turtles at the conservation center, participating in beach cleanups or waste management improvement, and helping to educate the locals of the danger they face of losing sea turtles.
If turtle conservation isn’t up your alley, then maybe you can try your hand at Forest Conservation in Nosy Komba, Madagascar. Unfortunately, much of the wildlife that’s unique to Madagascar is endangered due to habitat destruction. By choosing to help save the forests of Madagascar you can study lemurs, reptiles, and birds and butterflies. As a volunteer, you’ll collect data and create surveys to help identify and solve the problem of habitat destruction.
Spend your summer on the water as an IVHQ volunteer in Portugal! The Environmental Scuba Diving project is open to beginners without any diving experience. Earn your Open Water PADI diving certification, or take speciality diving courses if you’re already certified. You can complete a variety of PADI certifications during your stay, from one to 12 weeks. Work with a local diving school in Cascais to help conserve marine life by containing the underwater pollution. Volunteer tasks include trash removal on the seafloor, recording items collected, observing, identifying and counting fish, and learning how to protect the marine ecosystem. Program fees for one week start at $375, and includes the required PADI manuals, crew packs, PIC cards and full scuba equipment.
Vietnam needs your help to support children affected by Agent Orange, an herbicidal chemical that contaminated the soil and continues to affect the people of Vietnam. As a volunteer with IVHQ’s Childcare Project, you’ll work in schools, hospitals, community clinics, or orphanages in the city of Ho Chi Minh. You’ll help alongside local placement staff, so no experience is necessary. Duties include supporting the day-to-day operations of these centers, rehabilitation exercises, therapeutic treatments, playing with mentally disabled children, entertaining, educating them through games, music and art, painting murals, renovation work, and helping to develop fundraising initiatives. Program fees start at $245 for one week.
For more information and to view lots more volunteer abroad programs through IVHQ this summer, visit www.volunteerhq.org.
What Volunteers Say
As cliche as it sounds, my trip to Costa Rica was unforgettable. The online and in-country staff were very helpful. When planning my trip, they responded to all of my questions promptly and thoroughly and connected me via e-mail if I had questions about anything in-country. i didn’t feel like I was on a school trip, it was a perfect balance of support and freedom. The information packet was well-made and had useful tips for enjoying my time abroad. I spent my weekends traveling Costa Rica and I enjoyed the time that I spent teaching English during the week as well. I met so many great people that I still keep in contact with. We lived in a volunteer house of about 20 other volunteers from all over world, from England to Thailand, but I still felt we were able to experience the culture of the family we were living with. For such a cheap price, it was 100% worth it and I would love to do it again in the future. I recommended IVHQ to all of my friends and I wish I had stayed longer!
Spend your summer abroad with one of Plan My Gap Year’s affordable and enriching summer volunteer programs. Choose exotic destinations in Africa, Asia, the Pacific or Latin America, and join more than 3,000 satisfied volunteers worldwide. Founded in 2011, Plan My Gap Year offers safe, sustainable projects with an emphasis on responsible volunteering. Plan My Gap Year prides itself on its honest advice and transparent, low fees. With awards including the Shell LiveWire Grand Idea Award, Thailand Green Excellence Award, and Special Recognition from the United Nations in Sri Lanka, Plan My Gap Year is a great choice for challenging projects that will keep you busy and happily engaged for weeks, or months.
Spend your summer abroad on a Plan My Gap Year group adventure, the Mini Thailand Experience. Explore the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest, soak up the sun on amazing beaches, and soak in the serenity of Buddhist temples. Your Thailand immersion begins in Bangkok, jockeying your way through with 8,000 vendor stalls at the famous JJ market. You’ll overnight in floating raft houses on Cheow Larn Lake. Your trip will take you to the Grand Palace, and you’ll visit Was Pho to view the city’s largest reclining Buddha statue. A guided tour of Khao Sok National Park’s rainforest is followed by sunsets on the island of Ko Samui, snorkeling on Ko Tao and a full-moon party in Koh Phangan. You can round out your adventure with elephant treks, cooking classes and sightseeing. The fee for the Mini Thailand adventure starts at $705 for two weeks.
Interact with primates as a volunteer with this unique Monkey Rescue program. Spend one week or longer at the wildlife rescue center in Pretoria Central, South Africa, where caregivers work to undo the harmful effects of domestication. Often, people adopt baby monkeys as pets, however domestication alters the animal’s behavior, making it more aggressive, confused and agitated. The sanctuary provides a safe place for monkeys to interact and socialize. Volunteer tasks include feeding monkeys, cleaning and maintenance of enclosures, administering medications, observations, and baby monkey assistance. Program fees start at $330 for the first two weeks.
When asked how you spent your summer vacation, you’ll have a life-altering experience to share when you volunteer to teach English to monks in Nepal. Plan My Gap Year will place you in a Nepalese Buddhist monastery in Kathmandu or Chitwan, where you will share insights into your language and culture. Volunteers assist the young monks with English, allowing them to translate religious text and share the teachings of Buddhism. Immerse yourself in the experience as you wake each morning to the sound of the gong and morning prayers. Learn about the Tibetan refugees, and the poverty-stricken hill tribes who send their sons to sanctuary at the monastery, training as a monk to create a better life. In addition to teaching English, you may have a chance to share your interest in math and science. Volunteers teach about three hours each day, leaving you with free time travel and learn about the Buddhist way of life. Monks want to teach you about their way of life, and you’ll gain insight into their religion few people experience. Program fees start at $450 for two weeks.
The Sri Lanka Elephant Experience is a chance of a lifetime to learn about and play with elephants! As a volunteer at the elephant center, you’ll work alongside other Plan My Gap Year participants to prepare the twice-daily meals, cut fruit, and hand-feed elephants. You’ll be monitored by the Mahout, who has years’ experience with his animal. You’ll also help bathe the elephants, and have an opportunity to play with the elephants in the stream. Other tasks include cleaning and maintaining the project site, cleaning the elephant’s bed, collecting elephant dung to use as compost, and picking bananas grown onsite. During the experience you’ll enjoy a safari to Udawalawe National Park, created as a sanctuary for the wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir. The park is home to a herd of 250 elephants. Nearby is an elephant orphanage where you’ll observe the twice-daily feeding of the babies. Program fees start at $375 for one week.
Climb to the base camp of the world’s highest mountain with the Mount Everest Charity Challenge. Test your limits with an epic 21- or 28-day experience. Offered in association with Plan My Gap Year’s foundation, the aim of the fundraising and volunteering challenge is to generate income for projects the organization supports abroad. Former volunteers with Plan My Gap Year find the challenge allows them to get involved in a thrilling project that benefits programs worldwide. You’ll trek the Everest trail starting in Kathmandu, escorted by expert mountain-climbing Sherpas, and stay in guesthouses and teahouses as you reach the base camp. Climb to Kala Pattar, your highest point at 5,545 meters, and explore Thyangboc Monastery, festooned with peace flags. You’ll have a fundraising target minimum, around $4,800, but everything is included, such as flights, transfers, insurance, accommodation, meals and fees, for the 21-day duration. Fees for a 28-day trek vary. Start dates are twice per year, so check the charity challenge website for the next trek.
Maximo Nivel has provided affordable volunteer opportunities since 2003 in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Each program is internationally accredited, allowing most programs to be counted for university credit for student travelers. With a Latin American base, Maximo Nivel prides itself on commitment to quality and a high level of client service. Check out their different options for summer volunteer programs.
Maximo Nivel offers several different conservation programs in the rainforests, coasts, and mountains of Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru. The many environmental and wildlife programs include a sea turtle conservation project, animal care, reforestation, environmental education, and cleanup and organic farming. With each of these projects you will live with local communities and will be taught and directed by professionals.
In each of Maximo Nivel’s destination countries, you can also choose to work on construction projects to help repair or build new homes and schools for children and rural villages. Many of the projects within each construction site include digging, carrying cement, laying bricks, painting, plastering, and other physically demanding activities. Workdays are based on weather, but are generally Monday through Friday.
If you have four weeks to travel this summer, check out Maximo Nivel’s TEFL certification course for travelers who want to teach English abroad. Based in each of Maximo Nivel’s destination countries, you’ll take an intensive, accredited certification course, which will open you up to paid teach abroad placements all over the world. Not only does Maximo Nivel provide job-seeking support to their alumni, but they also hire three to five graduates every month to work as teachers in their Native English program.
Maximo Nivel also is offering several different animal care volunteering programs in Guatemala and Peru this summer, where you can work at a dog shelter, in a zoo, or in an amphibian and reptile rescue center. At the dog shelter, you can help with providing veterinary care as well as grooming, education programs, fundraising events, and much more. If you volunteer at the zoo, you’ll help with animal feeding, cage cleaning, light construction work, and much more. And in the amphibian and reptile rescue center, you’ll help care for injured animals, release healthy animals into the wild, and other day-to-day tasks like maintenance, cage cleaning, and conservation. You’re invited to stay one week or longer, and can expect to volunteer three to four hours a day, with free time on weekends and in evenings.
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering abroad with Maximo Nivel, visit www.maxinonivel.com.
What Volunteers Say
I’ve never participated in an international volunteer organization before and after talking with a few other travelers, found that I was very much treated with Maximo Nivel. Not only do they have an awesome staff to help you out with your stay and answer any and all questions, but their programs are very organized.They start you off with a welcome orientation and tour of the city, which I found very helpful. I couldn’t have asked for a better host family to stay with and the project I am working in is soooo much fun! I also was able to brush-up on my Spanish in a one-week class, which proved to very beneficial. Maximo really makes sure you feel right at home. Furthermore, they provide you with other information for traveling and give you plenty of time to explore!
Your time as a volunteer here is invaluable and the Maximo Nivel staff is always there when any kind of support is needed.
Agape Volunteers provides humanitarian aid and support to Africa, offering a variety of volunteer abroad programs to better the lives of underserved communities across the continent. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Agape Volunteers’ 15-member team includes many staffers who started as volunteers with the organization—and who work hard to make sure that all of their fellow travelers have the most impactful experience possible. These programs in Africa can be some of the most rewarding summer volunteer opportunities. And as one of the most affordable volunteer abroad organizations out there, you won’t have to scramble to plan out your travel budget.
Share your love for animals and help to support endangered species on a wildlife conservation program in South Africa. This memorable experience invites you to contribute to the protection of lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, buffalos, and hyenas at Marakele National Park. You will monitor the movements and behaviors of animals, and take part in anti-poaching activities, such as looking for suspicious tracks, reporting low-flying aircraft, joining sleep-outs, and even flying on a microlight to check the reserve. Other tasks include invasive plant removal, road restoration, trash removal, fire control, game capture, and bush clearing.
Another excellent option for you to make a difference this summer is through Agape Volunteers’ Kenya Sports program. You’ll partner with football clubs and community groups to teach sports to children—sports being hugely important in Kenyan culture and a major impact on children’s development. As a volunteer, you’ll immerse yourself in both teaching and learning by taking part in drills and play matches, and cultivating a great relationship with your team and the community.
If you’re musically inclined, perhaps the Ghana Music program is the right option for you! Agape Volunteers recently created a free music school in Aboadze, Ghana, providing tuition and musical instruments for students that could not otherwise attend school. In this program, you’ll take lessons with students of all different musical abilities.
To learn more about Agape Volunteers and the amazing trips you can sign up for this summer, visit www.agape-volunteers.com.
Love Volunteers is one of the most affordable organizations that allows you to both travel the world and to do good. With volunteer placements starting from $199 per week, Love Volunteers offers low-cost, safe adventures where you’ll develop lasting friendships and make an impact. Love Volunteers partners with local communities in more than two dozen countries to ensure you have the best trip possible, and they offer a range of options for a volunteer abroad summer program. A few of their most popular destinations include:
It’s also one of the fastest-growing volunteer organizations in the world, with 4,000 volunteers placed on meaningful projects in just the past year.
One excellent program from Love Volunteers brings you to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where you will help to build a home for a family in need. You don’t need to have prior experience in building or construction to participate, as you’ll complete your project with the help of a local, professional team. As a volunteer, you will work on foundations, assist with building houses, move construction materials, and paint. You’re invited to stay one week or longer on this volunteer project, which starts from $359. Learn more here!
This summer, volunteer and travel to Costa Rica to help out with an initiative that protects sea turtles from extinction! With multiple locations throughout the country, you can help Love Volunteers and local teams with research and conservation work, protecting turtle nests from poachers and predators, assisting with egg harvesting, helping out in the hatcheries, and even help to release hatchlings into the sea. You also can take part in construction and lighting projects to mitigate beach traffic. This program starts from one week at $349 – learn more and sign up here!
If you are looking for a variety of projects to sign up for this summer and you’ve always wanted to travel to Africa, come to Tanzania to help out with a community development program through Love Volunteers! On this program, you can work on grant applications and fundraisers, teach local communities about health and hygiene issues, assist with school infrastructure programs, help staff with administration and program development, and even plant trees and get involved with sustainable gardening and recycling. This program starts from one week at $199 – learn more and apply here!
Located in Kathmandu, this program strives to give quality education to some of Nepal’s poorest children living in the slums around the city. As a volunteer, you will help local teachers lead their classrooms in English, math, science, history, and geography – you also will play games and read to the children in English to help them develop their language skills for better education and career prospects. You are invited to stay for one week or longer, with a starting fee of $259. Learn more and sign up here!
What Volunteers Say
Love Volunteers is such an amazing organization. I can’t stress enough how kind and helpful they were doing the whole trip process. They were happy to answer any question I asked, and made the process as smooth as possible. I would recommend Love Volunteers to everyone. I can’t thank them enough for helping give me this opportunity. It easily was the greatest experience of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again.
-Delaney and Jordan
Summer is one of the most popular times to volunteer abroad. To make your search for the right summer volunteer travel program easier, use Abroadly, a new booking platform developed by Volunteer Forever.
All programs and organizations on Abroadly have been vetted for safety, ethical commitment, and overall quality. Simply search according to your interests, experience, and budget. When you see a summer volunteer project you like, don’t hesitate—just apply! You’ll get all of your application fee back if you’re not accepted.
By applying on Abroadly, you not only get access to Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform, you also get the chance to win a $500 scholarship. So, begin your search for summer volunteer and work abroad programs now!
Sea turtles are at risk of extinction, and need your help. Join Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica in an effort to conserve sea turtles and their nesting areas. Your duties will consist of conducting nightly patrols to find nesting turtles, tagging sea turtles, moving eggs to hatcheries, and participating in community outreach programs to raise awareness.
When you’re not helping these precious creatures, relax on the beach, practice your Spanish, and enjoy meals with your host family. Sounds like quite the summer experience, right? The program fee is $1,105 for two weeks. You can stay up to 12 weeks. Get all the details and apply here!
This is the perfect opportunity to combine a beach vacation with a volunteer trip. Offered by Camp Thailand, this program is great for those who want to launch a career in ESL teaching or education, as well as those simply interested in teaching English to local children. You can earn your TEFL/TESOL certification online or onsite during the project. Your main teaching duties will be to use conversational exercises and games to improve your students’ English and build their confidence in speaking another language.
The organization offers lots of activities during free time, including bike tours, barbecues, waterpark trips, and beach excursions. The three-week program fee is $1,269. Get all the details and apply here!
Journey to Pretoria and help care for babies and toddlers at the Dinokeng Game Reserve. Hero Holidays’ Babies in the Bush, as its called, is an early childhood development program that benefits nearly 1,700 children. As a volunteer, you’ll care for babies and toddlers from impoverished families, providing them a safe haven. You’ll play games and teach basic motor skills to the kids, as well as find ways to make them smile and laugh. A truly rewarding summer volunteer program, you’ll also get training in early childhood education throughout your time there.
When you’re not busy taking care of the children, see if you can catch a glimpse of one of Africa’s Big 5 (a reserve is nearby) and explore the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg. The program fee is $1,066 for two weeks, with stays up to six weeks available. Get all the details and apply here!
The Selwane Nature Reserve was one of the first game farms in the country, but now requires restoration and security help in order to become a safe place for birds and other animals. Offered by Awesome Work & Travel, your primary responsibilities during the project depend on your skills and interests, but could include caring for horses and assisting with breeding programs, as well as riding horses around the reserve at night to prevent poaching opportunities. Your impact will be felt immediately, as you’ll have the chance to stop poaching activities before they occur (and save precious wildlife!).
The summer volunteer program fee is $1,344 for two weeks, with stays up to 12 weeks available. Get all the details and apply here!
Volunteering Solutions’ three-week summer volunteer program in Thailand enables you to experience a lot of the country while you help improve the future prospects of local children and conserve the elephant population. The journey begins in Bangkok, where you’ll play games and teach English to students at a local school. You’ll then head to Surin, where you’ll work at a childcare center and assist with building playgrounds and revamping school libraries. Surin is known for their elephant villages and ethical elephant encounters, and you’ll have the unique opportunity to help local villagers with their animal husbandry duties.
During time off, you’re free to check out the shops and restaurants in Surin and hang out with your fellow volunteers. The program costs $1349 for three weeks and $1744 for four weeks. Get all the details and apply here!
Featuring more than 150 different volunteer and work abroad programs, GoEco has plenty of opportunities if you’re looking for something fun and good to do during your summer break. By volunteering with GoEco, you can be part of their different solutions to wildlife and environmental issues. Created by experienced volunteers in 2006, all of GoEco’s initiatives have been inspected to ensure they meet high standards for safety and quality. They’re quite affordable, too. What’s also convenient is that GoEco provides 24-hour support to volunteers, plus travel insurance for most destinations. So, whether you want to dive for marine conservation in Mexico or teach English to Buddhist monks in Nepal, GoEco has the program for you.
The wild population of chimpanzees has decreased considerably over recent years, putting them in endangered status. As a volunteer for this project in Zambia, you will care for chimpanzees that have been rescued from poachers or horrible situations, like those being bought and sold as pets or those that were intended to be used for bush meat. Duties include planting crops for the chimps to eat, erecting behavioral enrichment structures (like tire swings), assisting visitors at the orphanage, and performing research (such as studying social dynamics).
This is a truly amazing project that enables you to really get to know the animal kingdom’s closest relative to humans. Ready to depart for Zambia? Find out more and register here (from $2,130 for two weeks).
This program is a great choice if you’re interested in sustainable agricultural practices and learning the business side of modern farming. At the farm, you’ll learn how to make yogurt, feed farm animals, garden, and perform other necessary tasks. In the city of Cork, you’ll sell products at the farmer’s market and work at the farm cafe. You get to see first-hand how food moves from farm to table in a sustainable manner.
What’s great is that this work abroad program allows you to experience rural and urban Ireland. If that sounds exciting, click here to register (from $1,480 for three weeks).
Spend your holiday in Greece on the beach, working for the conservation of sea turtles! Spend each day in the sand, engaged in rewarding volunteer work while experiencing the beauty of this historically-rich, Mediterranean country. Learn more here.
Live aboard a famous, historic boat and set sail to collect data on the current population of dolphins in Ischia! Sail along the Italian coastline, measure the impacts of sea traffic on dolphins and experience life on a boat! Sign up here.
Travel where you are needed: For many, volunteering overseas is a dream fulfilled. Make your travels meaningful with A Broader View (ABV), a highly trusted, US-based nonprofit charity organization with a decade of experience organizing authentic, memorable volunteer experiences abroad in 25 countries with over 245 social and conservation programs. ABV has partnered with local grassroots organizations for over 10 years, all of which have developed to sustainable programs. See if one of their opportunities works as a summer program for you. A few of ABV’s most popular destinations include:
Travel to the Galapagos Islands and volunteer for conservation! Volunteer work is about three to five hours per day, five days per week. Volunteers can help with light construction tasks, reforestation efforts, and eradication of non-native plants. Much of the work is outside working in the Galapaguera greenhouse. This program lets you do a little bit of everything providing support of sustainable conservation efforts on the Island, and is a great opportunity to discover the wonders and wildlife of the Galapagos by offering hands-on contributions to their sustainability.
Volunteer in Costa Rica! These conservation projects range from very secluded locations that require 4×4 vehicles and boats to access the program area to those closer to towns. Volunteers participate in sea turtle preservation including monitoring and registering nesting patterns, record keeping of eggs, moving eggs to the hatchery, beach patrols, and freeing of the newborns to the ocean.
What Volunteers Say
My experience has been amazing, the month has definitely flown by. I couldn’t have asked for a lovelier host family, Elena has really made me feel at home. Her cooking is excellent, once she found out all my favorite foods she really made an effort to cook them for me. I love the neighborhood and experiencing authentic Cartagena and the old town is so beautiful I will definitely be coming back. -Alice
If you want to try a truly unique travel adventure this summer, take a look at Fronteering, which is offering volunteer and intern abroad opportunities right now for travelers who want to visit exotic, unspoiled locations off the beaten track. With placements in 14 countries all around the world, Fronteering offers tons of impactful and educational programs for travelers who want to make a difference in environmental conservation, wildlife research, indigenous communities, and more. Volunteer and intern abroad programs start at an affordable $695 for the first week – and if you’d like to stay longer, Fronteering also offers placements to fill up your entire summer.
One unique program to check out invites you to Mongolia, where you’ll work alongside wildlife researchers and biologists to learn about the wild takhi – or Przewalskis Horse – one of the world’s rarest and most endangered horse species. During this project, you’ll collect data on the horses you’re studying, track horse behavior, provide data to the biologists that are managing reintroduction of the horses into the wild, collect information about plants and other animals, and much more. You’ll stay in a traditional Mongolian ger, and during your free time, you can go horseback riding, visit local nomadic families, and truly immerse yourself in Mongolian culture. You can sign up for one to four weeks, with a program fee starting at $895 for the first week.
In Australia, Fronteering is offering the opportunity to volunteer at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Sanctuary with koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, and other exotic creatures. During your stay, you’ll act as a wildlife spotter for nocturnal tours, photograph wildlife, help with path and fence upkeep, catalogue native trees, collect and disperse seeds, provide guided tours, and lots of other tasks that keep the sanctuary running and successful. Accommodation is provided in a farmhouse with other volunteers, with meal provisions on a weekly basis and a kitchen available. This project lasts two to four weeks, starting from $1,895 – and for an extra fee, you can arrange dive tours, bike tours, cave visits, and many other side trips and excursions.
For a volunteer program like no other – and for the adventurous traveler – check out this great white shark research opportunity in South Africa. There are lots of ways to get involved, including gathering data on a research boat, teaching about shark conservation with a local partner organization, assisting with database maintenance, giving presentations about shark tourism and other topics, and lots of additional adventurous activities like shark cage diving, observation, and more. During your stay, accommodations are provided in a shared, dormitory-style volunteer house on the western cape of South Africa. During your free time, you can visit animal parks and game reserves, go bungee jumping, explore the city, and take part in many other activities. You can stay two to four weeks, with a program fee starting at $1,700 for your first two weeks on the project.
Projects Abroad was founded in the early 1990s for students who wanted to take a break in between schooling. Projects Abroad has since expanded to include offices all over the world with more than 600 trained staff members. With more than 10,000 volunteers sent around the world each year through its programs, Projects Abroad emphasizes mutual learning and respect through cultural exchange.
Use your summer to get out into the great outdoors to make a difference. Projects Abroad offers volunteer opportunities in some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. You can travel somewhere exotic to do important work that will impact the environment and local communities in need. You can go diving to do research in marine biodiversity, venture into the Amazon jungle to protect endangered animals, or release baby sea turtles on sandy beaches!
If you’re up for something a bit more physical, you could dedicate your summer to helping on an important building project in a disadvantaged community. You could choose to:
- Protect endangered sea turtles in Mexico
- Contribute to coral reef research in Belize or Thailand
- Experience the African Bushveld through conservation work in Botswana
- Live and work in the heart of the rainforest in Peru or Madagascar
- Build schools in underprivileged communities in Jamaica
What Volunteers Say
“This trip, this experience was without a doubt life changing for me. The independence of being away from normal support channels, the physical and mental challenge of it, the chance to meet some lovely and extraordinary people making wonderful friends from all over this beautiful world and seeing a most beautiful and richly diverse country all made this trip exceptional.” -Alexander, Conservation in Nepal
One organization that’s perfect for teens and high schoolers who want to travel abroad and make a difference this summer is Global Leadership Adventures. Founded in 2004, Global Leadership Adventures combines community service, hands-on learning, and adventure travel. Because GLA specializes in youth development through travel, they place a great emphasis on safety and support, which you can see outlined in its Five-Point Safety System™. And as a forerunner in international service learning, Global Leadership Adventures has a database of nearly 2,000 references ready to speak to the impact of their programs – in fact, the organization’s co-founder was recognized by President Obama for making a positive impact in Africa.
One of GLA’s many service learning opportunities you can sign up for this summer invites you to Costa Rica, where you’ll learn about coastal sustainable development, work hands-on with a local NGO to help with beach cleanup and educating the community about recycling and pollution, and much more. This program focuses on the Whale Bay marine park, where you’ll connect with grassroots leaders and with members of the community to learn about the park’s history and its work to promote sustainable tourism. Plus, you’ll go zip lining, swimming in a waterfall pool, kayaking through mangroves, and much more during your stay in Costa Rica.
On this program, you’ll have the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a Guatemalan school, learn about Maya culture, and explore ruins and gorgeous communities. At the school, you’ll help refurbish or build classrooms, and play sports and games with Maya children. Throughout your stay in Guatemala, you’ll meet a traditional shaman, learn about medicinal plants used in the region, and even visit a local chocolate workshop. For the adventure portion of your trip, you’ll visit the Mayan ruins at Iximche, explore colonial Antigua, and check out Lake Atitlan.
Another opportunity you should check out is GLA’s 21-day sustainable development service learning program in the Dominican Republic. For three weeks, you’ll learn about Caribbean sustainable development, environmental conservation, and public health. For the volunteer portion of your trip, you’ll help with a variety of projects, such as construction for a community center, helping with reforestation system development, building vertical gardens, and more. You’ll also attend seminars on environmental protection and sustainability practices, and go hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and visiting a Haitian border town market throughout your visit to the Dominican Republic.
Global Vision International, or GVI, has been committed to conservation and community development through firsthand experience since 1997. Each year, more than 2000 volunteers participate in GVI’s award-winning projects, giving an approval rating of 95% since the organization’s founding. In fact, most of GVI’s dedicated staff started as volunteers—and it’s their goal to give you the same wonderful experience that they had.
One of the many volunteer opportunities you can sign up for this summer is GVI’s Marine Conservation Expedition in the Seychelles, where you can participate four weeks scuba diving in the Indian Ocean while engaging in and learning about marine conservation practices. You’ll learn to identify fish and coral, take PADI Advanced and Coral Reef Research Diver courses, search for sharks, rays, and dolphins, and much more. As a volunteer, you’ll provide data and statistics for local government surveys on coral reefs, invertebrates, and turtle breeding areas. In order to participate in this volunteer excursion, you must at least be PADI Open Water certified.
If you’re between the ages of 15 and 17, you may want to check out GVI’s two-week program in Greece for Animal Care Marine Conservation. Through this program, you’ll help conserve one of the most important sea turtle nesting sites in Greece by checking the site every day and night, creating a record of the nesting activity, and protecting the nest. Throughout the program, you will be able to see the native reserves, observe sea turtles lay eggs or observe the hatchlings make their way to the sea, and learn more about Greek culture.
If you’re more of a jungle adventurer, there’s always the option of traveling to Costa Rica for GVI’s Jaguar Conservation program this summer. On this exotic journey, you’ll explore the rainforest and help protect endangered Jaguars—and help develop a long-term wildlife conservation plan. As a volunteer, you’ll set up cameras and survey a 16-mile stretch to be on the lookout for signs of jaguars, whose population has dropped since the 1950s from 400,000 to approximately 14,000. You’ll also learn more about the Costa Rican rainforest and its ecosystem, as well as other local wildlife.
If you’re interested in these trips or want to learn more about GVI, check out their website at www.gviusa.com.
What Volunteers Say
I was in need of a career break, and was looking to do something out of the ordinary. I was looking to get far away and do something worthwhile. After some heavy research GVI continued to be the organization that ticked all the boxes. They were incredibly helpful when I was choosing my location, and the onsite assistance and support throughout the entire journey was fantastic. I was so lucky to be involved in the Community development program of El Cocal, the children were amazing, I made some friends for life and hopefully one day soon I’ll return for a visit! It really was an unforgettable experience!
Naturally Africa Volunteers, and its charity, the Naturally Africa Foundation, is dedicated to raising funds and providing support for community and conservation projects throughout Africa. The organization aims to prevent poverty on the continent by advancing education, relieving sickness and promoting health, and promoting sustainable development so that people may become more self-sufficient.
If you’d like to do good and hang out at the beach this summer, check out Naturally Africa Volunteers’ Ghana Turtle Conservation and Ecotourism program. This project fosters a wonderful relationship between volunteers and the community—as a volunteer, you’ll work to conserve the sea turtle nests, get to know people within your host community, and learn about sustainable practices at the guesthouse you will be staying in.
If you’re looking to expand your education and build your career, why not try the South Africa Pre-Vet Wildlife Project? With this hands-on experience, you’ll work with a variety of animals such as elephants, rhinos, buffalo, cows, chickens, mice, and many more. You’ll also learn from an experienced botanist while you work with wild, domesticated, and agricultural animals.
For more information on these trips and others, go to www.volunteerafrica.com.
What Volunteers Say
From June-July 2-14, I volunteered with Naturally Africa in the village of Nkope, Malawi. My experience was excellent. I was impressed with the mix of international and local staff, the commitment to cultural awareness, and genuine community engagement. The program was oriented toward improving the lives of those in the village through health and education. Its goals were focused and realistic, making its work more impactful. The camaraderie between staff and volunteers was wonderful. I highly recommend this program.
Since 1993, International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT) has provided high-quality, internationally accredited TEFL and TESOL courses for travelers who want to teach English overseas. With more than 100,000 graduates to date, ITTT certifies more than 7,500 students each year through its online classes, worldwide in-classroom programs, and a combined course. ITTT also provides lifetime English teaching job support for all of their graduates, with services such as exclusive leads on unadvertised jobs, unique databases of potential employers, CV and resume review, and more. Online classes start at $249, in-class programs start from $1,490 for four weeks, and ITTT’s combined online/in-classroom courses start from $1,195.
ITTT’s online TEFL courses are perfect for students who want to learn at their own pace, or who don’t have time to travel abroad for a four-week, immersive in-classroom experience. Online courses range from 60-hour introductory programs, to a full 120-hour course. Depending on your comfort level with learning to teach English, both options are available with or without support from a tutor. Through this program, you can earn TEFL certification in Teaching Business English, Teaching English to Young Learners, and an advanced Diploma in TEFL.
If you’d like to earn TEFL or TESOL certification abroad, ITTT offers four-week, in-class courses in 15 different countries, including Thailand, Costa Rica, Spain, Italy, France, China, US, UK, Australia, Canada, and many others. In-class programs are divided into six segments to ensure you have a well-rounded experience: teaching practice, foreign language experience, language awareness, student profile, teaching techniques, and a materials project.
One in-class course to check out with ITTT invites you to Calcutta, where you can immerse yourself in Indian culture while exploring amazing museums, galleries, marketplaces, and so much more. Earning your TEFL certificate in India also makes you perfectly suited to finding a teaching placement locally or in one of the neighboring countries, such as China or Nepal.
You also may be interested in ITTT’s TEFL Vietnam program, where you’ll have the opportunity to try authentic Vietnamese food, exploring amazing cities, learning about the country’s history, and so much more while completing your teacher training. Demand for TEFL teachers in Vietnam is high year-round, so earning your certification here is a great way to find a paid placement quickly in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, or many other areas.
ITTT’s Combined TEFL course is a great option if you want to earn TEFL certification alongside other students, but if you don’t have the time to attend a full, four-week course abroad – or if you’d like to earn your certification in time to teach and travel this summer. This combined program starts with a 120-hour online course that you can complete at your own pace from home, after which you’ll take a 5-day in-classroom course in one of more than a dozen locations in the US or Canada, or an 8- to 10-day program in Spain, Thailand, Italy, France, or the United States. You’ll receive full TEFL certification after successfully completing both portions of the combined course.
Since 1984, Global Volunteers has offered internships, volunteer trips, gap years, TEFL, and teach abroad placements in 34 countries around the world. To date, more than 33,000 travelers have signed up with Global Volunteers – and as one of the longest-running volunteer vacation providers in the world, this organization was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations in 1999, and formalized a relationship with UNICEF in 2008.
And with Global Volunteers, your safety comes first: team leaders are certified in CPR and first aid; volunteers serving outside of the US are provided emergency medical evacuation insurance as part of their placement; and emergency contact is available for all travelers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Depending on where you travel, placements start from $1,045 for your first week, and may be tax-deductible for volunteers in the US. Right now, Global Volunteers is offering summer volunteer opportunities in China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, St. Lucia, Tanzania, and many more locations worldwide. If you’re traveling with your family, check out these summer volunteer vacations to get started!
Through this program, you’re invited to St. Lucia, where you can support schools, child care programs, and families through several different projects, including:
- Maternal and infant support
- Parent education
- Early childhood education
- Tutoring numeracy
- Computer literacy
- School gardens
- Repair and maintenance
- Nutrition education
- Healthcare and hygiene education
- Parents’ cooperative
If you’re traveling with your family this summer, Global Volunteers’ childcare, labor, and tutoring programs in St. Lucia are open to travelers with children eight years old and up. Younger volunteers can enjoy playing with children and helping on the playground and with storytime, while parents and older volunteers can help teach English pronunciation, homework, and much more.
This summer, Global Volunteers is providing the opportunity for you to visit Siedlce, Poland to teach at a summer language camp. As a volunteer, you’ll have the chance to teach conversational English to students aged eight to 18 so that they can pursue better educational and career opportunities within their community and beyond. A few ways you can help include practicing English pronunciation, vocabulary, and phrases and idioms through workshops, skits, games, songs, and much more. Global Volunteers will provide an English teaching guide to help you out during your stay, and you don’t need previous teaching experience to sign up.
Ready to Travel?
If you’re ready to embark on the trip of a lifetime, start your search today! Read the recommended guidebooks below, or have a look at our Volunteer, Intern, and Teach Abroad pages to learn more about where you can go and what you can do!